Book shines light on landmarks

Bob Trapani Jr., the executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation and former resident of Lewes, had a book released recently, called “Lighthouses of New Jersey and Delaware — History, Mystery, Legends & Lore,” containing pictures of lighthouses from Sandy Hook, N.J., to Fenwick Island, and also the Delaware Bay.

Along with the pictures, the book has information about the lighthouses, including personal interviews, newspaper clippings and United States Coast Guard documents.

“Some of the stories in the book were never printed before,” Trapani said. “Hopefully, people find them interesting.”

Lighthouses guided goods and immigrants to the shores and acted as highways before highways were an idea, and Trapani said they are unique symbols of history.

Trapani’s goal for the book was to make people aware of lighthouse preservation, something he became aware as a member of various social groups. Everyone would talk about the lighthouses and how nice they were to photograph or climb. But there wasn’t any talk of saving them.

Before moving to Wells, Maine, to be a part of the American Lighthouse Foundation, Trapani was executive director of the Indian River Life-saving Station from 2000 to 2003 and was also a co-founder of the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation. He served there as executive director from the outset in 1999 until 2004, when he was asked to become a full-time employee and serve as the president.

The foundation was responsible for three lighthouses under Trapani’s watch: The Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse, Liston Range Rear End Lighthouse and Harbor Refuge, which they took over from the United States Department of the Interior in 2004.

“The talk was good for the present, but we need to think about tomorrow,” Trapani said.

Currently, with Trapani as the executive director, the American Lighthouse Foundation is in charge of 21 lighthouses in the Northeast and one in Michigan. He does the same kind of work that he did in Delaware, (fundraising, education and marketing) just on a broader scale then before.

“This [job] is the pinnacle of what we do,” Trapani said. “We are the nation’s leading preservation group. We give voice to other groups who may need some help.”

Look for Trapani’s new book, “Lighthouses of Maryland and Virginia: History, Mystery, Legends and Lore” in the spring of 2006. The book will be set up similarly to the first one, but will contain vastly different stories.